Tuesday, February 28, 2017

World Stroke Award Winners Announced

Global Experts Highlight Best Practice in Stroke Awareness Campaigns

The World Stroke Organization has announced the winners of their annual awards for best practice in raising awareness of key issues in stroke. The WSO, a worldwide membership body with over 4000 members representing over 100,000 stroke professionals, supporters and survivors. It works to reduce the global burden of stroke and central part of its program is the delivery of an annual World Stroke Day Campaign, World Stroke Day brings together WSO members and stroke stakeholders in a coordinated global day of action to raise awareness of critical issues in stroke.

Last year the theme for World Stroke Day was ‘Stroke is Treatable’ around 100 campaigns were registered with on the WSO map of action, almost half of which applied for an award. Submissions were reviewed by WSO Board and Campaign Committee members with winners selected for reducing the impact of stroke  by raising awareness of patient treatment needs and the potential for recovery.

Award for Best Campaign in a High Income Country
Neeman Stroke Survivors, Israel were selected in the High Income Country category for their high profile campaign using TV, advertising viral online campaigning and advocacy events to raise awareness of the signs and urgent treatment needs of people having a stroke. 

The Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia received an award for best campaign in a low to middle income country.  The hospital ran a broad ranging program of workshops and events involving patients, carers, healthcare professionals and local policy makers to raise awareness of the impact and long term treatment and support needs of patients and families.

The World Stroke Campaign Award for outstanding individual achievement was given to MacDonald Oguike for his leadership of the Acha Foundation’s MasterStroke program that used an impressive combination of media, social media and mobile technology to raise awareness and understanding of stroke throughout Nigeria.

“Stroke is the second biggest cause of death and the single biggest cause of disability worldwide. It is crucial that people recognize the signs of stroke and understand that effective treatment can saves lives and reduce the devastating impact on individuals, families and society. Each of the winning campaigns has made a significant contribution towards the WSO’s vision of a life free from stroke.” said World Stroke President Werner Hacke.

“Each World Stroke Campaign Award Winner has worked in coordinated way, not only to make lives better in their own communities but to support global awareness of stroke. This kind of work is crucial to ensuring that stroke gets the attention and resources it deserves and each winner provides examples that we can all learn something from.” said WSO Campaign Chair Jon Barrick.

For more information about the World Stroke Campaign and Awards please visit www.worldstrokecampaign.org or email campaigns@worldstroke.org

Thursday, February 16, 2017

TWAS-Elsevier Foundation: Seeking Applications for Sustainability Visiting Expert Programme in Developing Countries Deadline

TWAS-Elsevier Foundation: Seeking Applications for Sustainability Visiting Expert Programme in Developing Countries
Deadline: 1 March 2017
The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) in partnership with the Elsevier Foundation, is seeking applications for its “Sustainability Visiting Expert Programme” with an aim to provide institutions and research groups in developing countries, especially those with limited outside contacts, with the opportunity to establish long-term links with world leaders in sustainability and further build capacity building in their countries.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Stroke survivor stories - Mrs Jayatilake

The stories of stroke survivors are what drives our fight at the World Stroke Organization to achieve our goal of a world free from stroke. Welcome to our stroke survivor stories series, which we'll pop up on the blog every Thursday, you may wish to contribute to this poignant narrative of stroke globally. Please contact Sarah.Belson@stroke.org.uk

Where were you when you had your stroke?  

It was early October 2016, I was a fifty three year old stenographer at a leading institute in Colombo. I had brought my breakfast to my office and was engaged in my routine work. Suddenly, I wanted to phone my husband. I was trying to talk but I noticed that my speech was slurring. My husband too had noticed this and thought that I was pretending. As the slurring continued, I could not convey my message to my husband. He said he would come to my office and he advised me to go to hospital.

Could you access hospital?
I met my husband at the hospital and met a doctor. The doctor advised us that I had the symptoms of a stroke and needed to get admitted immediately for a CT scan of the brain. I was frightened, and was admitted to Colombo South Teaching Hospital. The CT scan was done but it was normal. After the overnight sleep, I got up in the morning. Then I noticed that the left side of my face, left arm and left leg were paralysed.

What expectations did you have for your treatment, rehabilitation, therapy and recovery?
I was shocked. My husband and son were close by my side with desperate faces. One of my relatives volunteered as my care giver. I was frustrated and helpless when I thought of the care I rendered towards my family. Daily I cried, asking God why I was given this sort of terrible punishment. Despite counselling, I was not cooperating in physiotherapy and occupational therapy.  I did not want to live because how could I engage in my routine household work or my office work with the weakness of the left side of my body.

What was your experience of treatment and/or rehabilitation and therapy?
After two days in the hospital, I was transferred to the stroke unit of the National Hospital, Colombo. The day I was admitted to the stroke unit, the doctor ordered a repeat CT scan of my brain. Next day, I was seen by the senior consultant neurologist and told that as I had four major risk factors for stroke, they would commence medications to control these to prevent further strokes and at the same time commence daily physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

What has helped you in your recovery?
At the end of the stroke meeting, the entire stroke unit team was around me, the consultant neurologist was talking with me but I was not answering. She recognised that I was depressed and she read my thoughts correctly. Since then I engaged in my routine exercises with  courage and hope. At last, after two months of extensive schedules of continuous physio and occupational therapy, I was able to walk with support but my arm remained weaker than my leg. My speech was back to normal. I was able to eat prepared food, dress with help, and able to do toileting with minimal support.

What have been/are your fears?
My fear was what further disability I would have and whether I would die. Now I am leading a totally different life style - which I do not like, but I keep hope and I’ll be engaging in more and more meditation in the future. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Why Stroke Prevention Needs Overhaul

Tackling the world’s second biggest killer requires new approaches to prevention and risk management says World Stroke Organization Board Member Prof Valery Feigin.

The past 25 years have seen the global burden of stroke rise exponentially. Stroke is increasingly affecting low and middle income, with an incidence pattern that shows significant differences based on gender and ethnicity and an increasing number of strokes among younger people. Despite all our best efforts around primary stroke prevention our current approaches to prevention, screening and risk management clearly aren’t hitting the mark.

Prof Feigin advises that we need to take the following key steps to get us closer to a world free from stroke.

1          Increase awareness
Despite being the second biggest killer globally, public awareness of stroke risks and how to manage them is still low. Coordinated global and national campaigns that raise awareness of how to reduce and manage individual stroke risks have the potential to deliver significant gains in stroke prevention.

2          Drop the ‘low risk’ category
80% of strokes happen to people who are considered to be at low absolute risk of stroke. We need to encourage everyone to take stroke risk seriously. Telling someone they are ‘low risk’ gives false reassurance and doesn’t provide the motivation people need to take the risks seriously and take steps to address them.

3          Manage high blood pressure
Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases a person's stroke risk by four to six times. Addressing high blood pressure as a contributing factor to stroke would result in a significant reduction in strokes. However, the decision on whether to treat for high blood pressure is currently based on an overall calculation of high-risk cardiovascular disease. Someone with hypertension may not receive treatment because their overall five-year risk of CVD is less than 15%. We need to look at this.

4          Improve screening tools
Despite the fact that nearly three quarters of the global burden of stroke is attributed to lifestyle factors with the exception of smoking, current stroke screening tools don’t include a number of key lifestyle factors. We need to improve our screening tools to include behavioural risk factors such as poor diet, obesity, activity levels and alcohol intake.

5          Become diversity sensitive
Globally and within countries our populations are increasingly diverse. But the models we use to predict levels of risk are largely based on the Framingham study the subjects of which were largely white, North American. Addressing the significant differences in stroke rates across ethnicities and gender is going to require tools that can better predict stroke risks for specific populations so that these can be more effectively managed.

6          Deliver affordable solutions
The cost of seeing a doctor for CVD assessment, lab tests and medications that may reduce stroke risk can be a significant barrier for individuals who lack financial means in high, low and middle income countries. Low cost risk assessments and management strategies are essential.

Mobile technologies offer promising, accessible, motivational, educational and validated stroke prevention tools for both patients and healthcare workers that we need to explore and develop.

7          Implement population wide preventive strategies
Despite clear evidence of the effectiveness of population wide strategies, there is still not a single country in the world that has implemented these in full on a population level. Taxation of tobacco, sugar and alcohol would not only address incidence of stroke they would provide revenue to support research, development and implementation of culturally appropriate approaches to primary prevention.

8          Build partnerships and advocacy
If we are going to achieve the kind of changes and interventions that are needed to drive positive behaviours, we need to build partnerships between healthcare, and government and provide the evidence to support stronger advocacy from NGOs.

This article is based on an article by Prof Valery Feigin published in Volume 12 Issue 1 of the International Journal of Stroke. Professor Feign is Director of AUT’s National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neuroscience (NISAN) and a World Stroke Organization Board Member.

WSO members receive the IJS free as part of their membership. Find out more about becoming a WSO member here.  Alternatively you can explore content and subscription options on the publisher’s website.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Stroke survivor stories - Siew Cheong

The stories of stroke survivors are what drives our fight at the World Stroke Organization to achieve our goal of a world free from stroke. Welcome to our stroke survivor stories series, which we'll pop up on the blog every Thursday, you may wish to contribute to this poignant narrative of stroke globally. Please contact Sarah.Belson@stroke.org.uk

Where were you when you had your stroke?  
For me there was no warning. In 2007, I woke up, played badminton, went to sleep and when I opened my eyes my whole world had changed. Words that I had spoken my whole life had disappeared. Physically, I looked normal – I could walk and eat and watch TV. However, when my wife asked “What time is it?” I could not answer.

Could you access hospital?
Later, they brought me to see the doctor, and the doctor asked me my full name, my words were gone and I said, “I know, I know.” This is when my family knew something was very wrong. The doctor arranged for me to go to the A&E ward. Since I was walking, functioning and eating fine I was not put as a priority case.

What expectations did you have for your treatment and recovery?
For over an hour, I walked up and down the waiting room not knowing what was wrong with me. It was a very scary and strange experience. I could only pray. When it was finally my turn, the doctors did some scans and tests. They told my family that I had suffered from a stroke; my speech was affected but the worst was over. I lost usage of the right side of my body and also 99% of my speech.

Before that day, my family never guessed I would be the sort of person that would get a stroke. I was the one who made them drink carrot juice and eat wholemeal rice. We thought strokes were for elderly, overweight people, who smoked and did not exercise.

What has helped you in your recovery?
I had always been healthy. I loved sports…my favourite is badminton and until my stroke, I was playing badminton three times a week. After my stroke, I worked hard with the speech therapist and did mild exercise. The competitive sporting side of me took over and I was determined to improve. Over time, I went from not knowing my name to regaining 80% of my speech. Apart from feeling a little more tired and losing my temper a bit more, I was fine. I was even starting to play a bit of light badminton. Life was starting to become normal again.

That was until my second stroke. My second stroke was a lot more serious. So serious, the doctors said that I would not walk or function normally again. I was in the hospital for five months, but I was determined not to give up.

How did your family and friends feel and respond?
My wife supported me every step of the way. Even when the doctors were unsure if I would ever regain what I lost, I was sure.

Today, I have gone from having no movement in both legs to being able to walk for short periods of time with my stick. I still can’t use my right side but I was always left handed anyway. My family have been very supportive and are determined that I have a normal life. My wife especially has been my greatest help. She and I have travelled the world - visiting The Great Wall of China and going to Ephesus to see the Greek ruins, where there was a hot, dusty and an extremely jagged path. Some people told my family off for bringing me there, but I don’t think that just because I am not as able-bodied I should miss out or ever give up. Just because it is not as easy does not mean that it is impossible. 

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